The joys of worms...!

One of the many, often unspoken of, joys of parenting come in the form of threadworms. Yes, it is as disgusting as it sounds but so common in young children. Our experience as doctors and Mums, is that this is so little spoken of, that when it happens to your child, most people are unsure what to do…. So here’s the lowdown.

Threadworms live and multiply in the gut. As the name suggests, they are tiny, thread-like worms and are rarely seen. They emerge from the bottom at night to lay their eggs just outside. Often the first sign that your child has worms, is intense itching at night. When the child scratches, these eggs get under their fingernails, and are shared around their friends and family…. Why are children so good at sharing in some contexts?

Signs that your child has worms include intense itching round the bottom at night, complaining of pain around their bottom, visibly seeing worms around the bottom and vulva (in girls) and redness of the skin where they have been scratching. Here’s how to treat them…

You can buy a single dose of treatment from any pharmacy. The medicine is called mebendazole and has a number of different trade names (Ovex, Vermox). If you ask the pharmacist for mebendazole, they will know what you need! Children under 1 year need a prescription from their GP for this medicine, but everyone else can buy it. It comes in family sized packs (oh joy!!) as we recommend treating the whole family at once. The medicine is unsuitable for pregnant women and babies under 6 months of age, who should consult their GP. Mebendazole can cause stomach pain and wind as a side effect. For more information on this medicine, follow this link:

It’s a good idea to also wash linen and towels in a hot wash (90 degrees) to kill off any eggs that may have tumbled out onto them. Cut your child’s fingernails short to try and prevent re contamination, and ensure they wear underwear in bed whilst they are being treated. If symptoms persist, or come back, we recommend a second treatment to be given two weeks after the first.

Try not to worry… worms are an unfortunate, but common experience in childhood, and are a nuisance. They are rarely serious but if you have treated as above and your child is still experiencing symptoms, please see your doctor.

PS - I couldn't bear the thought of posting a photo of some worms so here's a gorgeous baby instead!

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